Braxton Ballew and Sarah Black have been composing and performing music together as Valentine Wolfe since 2006. Valentine Wolfe is an electronic music group that features operatic female vocals, solo double bass, and electronica driven beats. You’ll hear elements of metal, industrial, goth, trip-hop, j-rock, and classical blended together in a divine cocktail they call Steampunk Macabre. Their first album, The Crimson Masquerade, was released in 2010 and they are a staple on the Southeast Con circuit, with appearances at events including ConCarolinas, RavenCon, Upstate Steampunk, and Dragon*Con.
I had a chance to chat with Braxton shortly after the release of their second album, Music Most Dark.
1. How did Valentine Wolfe get started?
We met in graduate school at the Hodgson School of Music at the University of Georgia. Sarah wanted to form a band; I didn’t. So she started one anyway, and I eventually caught up. We decided at that point to be an electro dup, because even getting us to agree on that is pretty amazing. You might say we fight like a married couple;)
2. How do you explain your musical esthetic to others?
We have two phrases we like: Steampunk Macabre, which we think gives you the geeky-fantasy-retro-future vibe, just in a darkened alleyway instead of an airship, or the phrase that came up a whole lot at Dragon*Con this year: Victorian Chamber Metal. We think those are both vivid enough to give a potential victim some idea of what they’re getting into with Valentine Wolfe.
3. If you had to describe your muse as a person – what would they look like?
In all seriousness, my muse looks like Sarah, because my muse is Sarah. You’d have to ask her about hers. I describe Sarah as a cross between Bettie Page, an evil Disney Queen, and Morticia Addams, which should also give you a glimpse into my psyche.
4. You just came out with Music Most Dark – what’s one of your favorite tracks? What’s your next project you are working on?
Ooohh…you know, I usually hate listening to my own CDs, because all I can hear are things I’d like to tweak. But I’ve heard MMD quite a bit, and I still like it! I’m quite fond of La Cantarella, which is a result of many hours of the Borgias, Assassin’s Creed, and Manga, and Lucy, which is a tribute to one of my favorite and fascinating characters in literature, Lucy Westerna from Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
The next project we will be working on will be all about Edgar Allan Poe. All of the songs will feature lyrics taken directly from his poems and short stories. We are working with the same visual artist (www.jacobwenzka.com) whose work graces the cover of Musick Most Dark, but this time he has agreed to do a graphic novel! Yes, there will be a story linking the material, so this will be somewhat of a concept album. We are so excited about it! We will be launching a kickstarter in late May of this year to give people a chance to preorder the graphic novel and album so watch our website for that!
5. What 5 things would you need in your zombie survival kit?
Hmmm…how about a lightsaber or a TARDIS? And, pizza, pizza, and more pizza!
For more information about Valentine Wolfe, visit their website at www.valentinewolfe.com